‘Through Renovated Eyes’: Tales from a Three-Year Journey of Interdisciplinary Exploration

On April 7, 2019, Aimee Knupsky (Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities at Allegheny College), Soledad Caballero (Associate Professor English, Allegheny College), and Sarah L. Bunnell (Associate Director for the Center for Teaching & Learning, Amherst, formerly of Ohio Wesleyan) presented a webinar titled, ” ‘Through Renovated Eyes’: Tales from a Three-Year Journey of Interdisciplinary Exploration.” In it, they discussed their work with the GLCA’s Expanding Collaborations Initiative, a three-year (2015-18) Mellon-funded project designed to create and assess team-taught, interdisciplinary courses at Allegheny, Denison, Kenyon, and Ohio Wesleyan. Faculty at these institutions created ten such courses:

  • The Immigrant as Subject: Literary and Anthropological Perspectives (Rehenuma Asmi and Aline Lo, Allegheny)
  • Exploring Emotion: Interdisciplinary Explorations of Passion and Affect(Soledad Caballero and Aimee Knupsky, Allegheny)
  • Sex and Health (Becky Dawson and Barbara Shaw, Allegheny)
  • Yoga: Mind and Body in a Global Setting (John Cort and barbara Fultner, Denison)
  • Shakespeare by the Sword 3.0: Rapiers and Rapier Wit! (Peter Grandbois and Cheryl McFarren, Dennison)
  • Math in the Studio (Judy Holdener and Karen Snouffer, Kenyon)
  • Seeing the World: Voyages of Scientific Exploration (Harry Itagaki and Stephen Volz, Kenyon)
  • Neuroscience of Film, Space, and Play (Hewlet McFarlane and Joel Richeimer, Kenyon)
  • Seeing Nature through Diverse Lenses (Laurie Anderson and Karen Poremski, Ohio Wesleyan)
  • Motivation: The Development of Motivation in Children and Ourselves (Sarah Bunnell and Paula White, Ohio Wesleyan)

In the webinar, after discussing the courses created during the project, Knupsky, Caballero and Bunnell provided advice on what makes for a successful partnership, including:

  • A shared commitment to exploring the topic and/or the pedagogical approaches selected to examine the topic;
  • An ability to act as shared decision makers regarding such areas as grading, responding to emails, office hours, etc.;
  • An agreement on how both will be addressed by the students ;
  • A discussion on how each plans to contribute in the class, at what points to step in, and when to disagree;
  • A method of insuring that both (multiple) perspectives are equally represented in the discussions.

In the webinar, the presenters also offered critical perspectives on the key elements of interdisciplinarity, particularly as regards the various meanings that term holds for students and faculty. They also explored the challenges and benefits of team teaching and drew some conclusions regarding the impact of team taught, interdisciplinary courses on student learning, noting significant gains in a number of areas.

You can access a recording of the webinar here.

You can also see the slide show that accompanied the webinar by clicking on the following link:

Knupsky-Caballero-Bunnell_GLCA-CTL-Webinar_04-07-2019

 

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